Tooth loss is still a common problem, even with improved dental care. Most cases are due to tooth decay, injury, or periodontal disease. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry provides a solution for tooth loss, one that leaves you with beautiful and functional artificial teeth, just like your natural teeth. Dental implants give you a chance to enjoy the beauty and functionality of your teeth after tooth loss. You can smile, bite and chew without worrying about the tooth or teeth you have lost. Talk to us at The Whittier Dentist if you have suffered tooth loss and seek a solution that will bring back your smile and confidence in Whittier. Our team of highly trained and experienced cosmetic dentists has all you need to recover your lost smile.
What Are Dental Implants
Tooth loss is a common problem in the country today. People lose a tooth or two all the time. Some seek a dental replacement, while others remain without teeth for lack of information on locally available solutions. For a long time, dentures and bridges were the most common solutions for replacing missing teeth. Today, cosmetic dentistry has advanced so much, and dental implants are readily available for people that seek a more permanent solution to their missing teeth.
Dental implants are replacement dental roots. When a person loses one or more teeth, the entire tooth’s structure must be removed from the roots upward. Thus, any dental replacement that a dentist installs will require a strong foundation like the natural tooth. Implants provide a solid foundation for removable or permanent replacement teeth that your dentist can make to replace your missing natural teeth.
When you lose your natural teeth, you can find it challenging to live without them. Missing teeth make it difficult to chew, bite, and sometimes speak. You will also not smile with confidence again. Most people with missing teeth have low self-esteem. They cannot socialize as confidently as they would if their teeth were healthy and strong. A beautiful smile is made possible by the presence of healthy-looking teeth. That is why a replacement is necessary if you have missing teeth. Whether you choose temporary or permanent dental replacements, they will need a stronger foundation to serve you well and for a more extended period. That is why you need dental implants.
The process of dental implants installation involves securing metal posts surgically under your gum and into your jawbone, where the missing teeth were. When the posts are installed, your cosmetic dentist will install dental replacements into those posts. Eventually, the implant will fuse into your jawbone to provide the much-needed support for your teeth replacements. Dentures and bridges also need this kind of support to remain strong and last long. It makes it easier for you to easily talk, eat, bite, or perform other oral functions. Thus, dental implants make dentures, crowns, and bridges feel and appear more natural, like natural teeth.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root resembling a screw. The installation is done directly to your jawbone, where the implant is expected to bond with your natural bone. An abutment or connector is applied at the top of the implant, where an artificial tooth is attached.
The advancing technology has made dental implants very successful. They offer a more durable solution for supporting dental replacements. Dental implants allow a person that has lost their natural teeth to look, feel, and function naturally as if they did not lose any teeth in the first place.
But, you have to partner with a reputable cosmetic dentistry expert to undergo a successful installation and for your implants to serve you well for a long time.
Benefits of Dental Implants
As previously mentioned, dentures and dental bridges have been around longer than dental implants. However, people who received dentures after a tooth loss could only eat specific types of foods. Their replacements were not strong enough to function and feel like natural teeth. That is why dental implants are necessary if you need a more permanent solution to your tooth loss. Here are some of the benefits dental implants bring:
Improved Facial Appearance
The primary worry of many people that have missing teeth is how they look when they smile. Lost teeth affect your facial structure and impact how you feel about yourself. Dental implants improve your general appearance. They make you feel like you have your natural teeth back. Nothing much changes about your facial appearance once you have the installation. And since they are designed to fuse with your jawbone, the look and feel are permanent.
Tooth loss interferes with the way you speak. Poorly-fitted dentures make it even worse because they can slip within your mouth, causing you to mispronounce some words while speaking. Dental implants enable you to have solid and functional replacements that help you talk confidently as if you still have all your natural teeth. They hold dentures and bridges in place, taking away the worry of moving teeth while in the middle of a speech or conversation.
You must be comfortable eating, speaking, or even laughing with confidence. That is something tooth loss takes away from you. Implants give you a second chance after tooth loss. And since they fuse with your jawbone to become part of your oral structure, you will no longer have to worry about missing teeth or even the discomfort that comes with removable dentures.
It is incredibly challenging to eat when you have missing teeth, especially the molars and premolars. Sliding dentures do not make eating any more manageable. You are constantly afraid that they will come off while you are chewing. Dental implants offer a more permanent and comfortable solution. They hold dentures in place. Thus, you are no longer afraid of chewing or biting even harder foods.
A Higher Self-Esteem
Your confidence is affected by every tooth you lose. You can no longer smile with confidence like you did before the loss. Dental implants help you attain a close-to-natural look and feel. You can now regain your confidence to smile and socialize. It enables you to feel and look better.
Improved Oral Health
Your oral health is as vital as your general well-being. If part of your body is not okay, your entire body will not feel okay. Installation of dental implants is one way to improve your oral health and general wellbeing. Dental implants do not affect your adjacent teeth. Additionally, they allow easier access between teeth, vital in keeping your teeth and mouth clean.
They Offer Durability
Dental implants offer more durability for teeth replacement. If you have lost a permanent tooth, you could spend more time and money if you seek temporary solutions every time an issue comes up. Dental implants fuse to your jawbone to become part of your dental structure. That offers permanent support for your artificial tooth replacement. Additionally, dental implants are designed to last for several years without replacement. With good care, they can serve you even for a lifetime.
They Offer Convenience
You do not have to suffer the embarrassment of dealing with removable dentures every time you want to eat or clean your mouth. A more permanent solution means that you can still eat and clean your teeth without letting everyone know you have missing teeth and have an artificial replacement.
Types of Dental Implants
If you have missed, diseased or chipped teeth and are already considering dental implants for a permanent replacement; it is crucial to know the four types of dental implants available today. That will help you make a better decision on the kind of implant you want to be installed by your cosmetic dentist. The choice you go for will depend on your dentist’s findings after conducting a thorough examination of your teeth, your oral health, and your general wellbeing. The four types of dental implants are:
Two-Stage Dental Implants
These require surgery for the dentist to place the implant into your jawbone. After the procedure, you will allow the mouth to heal for months before undergoing another minor surgery to expose the implant and attach an abutment for a dental restoration or a crown.
Endosteal Dental Implants
They are types of dental implants used in place of dentures of dental bridges. They, too, are placed into the jawbone in the same two-stage installation process mentioned above.
Single-Stage Dental Implants
The placement of these dental implants is a little different from the two above, as everything is done in a single surgical operation. The dentist places a longer implant into your jawbone and gum, leaving the top of the implant exposed. After a few months of healing, the dentist will place the abutment and restoration on the exposed part of the implant without taking you through minor surgery to expose the implant.
Subperiosteal Dental Implant
These, too, are placed into the jawbone, and a metal post is left exposed at the top to hold a restoration. These types of dental implants are used in single-stage installations.
Preparation Before Dental Implant Installation
Installation of dental implants is a long process requiring several procedures performed for many months. You will be required to visit your dentist’s office several times before the installation is done. Thus, you must prepare well for all the procedures. Some preparations will help prepare your body for the processes you will undergo, while others will speed the healing process after the final installation. Here are some of the steps you can take to prepare for dental implant installation:
Undergo a Comprehensive Oral Exam
Most of the dental and oral problems we see go deep within the dental structure. A competent dentist will determine your underlying dental structures before beginning any restorative procedure.
A comprehensive oral exam before an effective dental procedure helps the dentist establish the patient’s suitability for the process. Your dentist will seek to find if your dental structures are strong enough to support a dental implant. It also helps the dentist find helpful information to develop a proper treatment plan for you.
The comprehensive dental exam will include a visual examination, x-rays, and studying your previous medical records. Here are some significant findings that could help the dentist make informed decisions after the dental exam:
- If your immune system is weak, the dentist can put you on drugs to boost your immunity, like antibiotics. You could use them before and after the procedure
- If you are allergic to any dental material or anesthesia, the dentist will determine alternatives
- The dentist will adjust your treatment strategy if you are on medicines that could affect the procedure or interact with anesthesia.
- If your jaw is affected, maybe by periodontitis, and requires preparation before dental implant installation, the dentist can perform jaw reshaping or bone grafting before the procedure.
- If your jawbone is perfectly healthy, your dentist can install the implant and abutment in a single procedure. Sometimes the dentist can complete the entire procedure in a single surgery, including fitting the crown.
The comprehensive examination results will provide your dentist with the details they need to formulate the right treatment plan that will meet your specific needs.
Start Antibiotics if Required
Your dentist could start you off on antibiotics based on your oral health and general well-being. When you are about to receive an implant, it is vital to use immunosuppressant medications to protect the implant from attack by your body. The antibiotics will also act as a substitute boost to your immune system. However, your dentist can skip this process if they feel that you are in perfect health. But, patients with severe conditions must be put on antibiotics before and after receiving a dental implant.
Prepare Your Body for the Procedure
If you undergo the procedure under general anesthesia, you will be expected to fast for at least twelve hours before the surgical treatment begins. You will also be expected to wear loosely-fitting but comfortable clothes to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure.
Undergo Jaw Preparation
As previously mentioned, you will need jaw preparation if your jaw is not in good health. Note that the implant will be installed into your jawbone. Thus, your jaw must be in good health to support and accept the implant. Here are some of the ways your dentist can prepare your jaw for a dental implant:
- Through bone grafting, if your jaw is soft or thin to support an implant
- Through reshaping or smoothening the jaw
- Removing some jawbone if your jaw is bulky or large
- Removing any impacted teeth inside your jaw
To begin the dental implant installation procedure, you must allow the jaw to heal.
Prepare for After-Treatment Care
It is crucial to prepare for what you must do after the procedure to promote healing. The procedure could leave you confused and unable to make rational decisions, at least for a few hours until the anesthesia and medication wear out. That is why some after-care preparations must be done before the procedure.
The installation will leave you with some swelling and soreness. You will require time to heal and rest. Thus, plan to take a few days off from work or your everyday schedule. Some of the plans you could make before the procedure are:
- Stock up on pain medication, soft foods, and drinks you will take for the few days you will be resting
- Take a few days of leave from work, and social engagements
- Make your schedule light at least for a week after the procedure
- Take a break from your workout routine
- Organize for help with house chores and/or childcare for the few days you will be resting at home.
Installation of Dental Implants
Installation of dental implants starts with a treatment plan developed by your dentist according to your individual needs. Your dentist develops this plan immediately after your comprehensive oral exam. It considers your oral problems, needs, and the right course of action. For instance, if you have severely damaged teeth, the treatment plan will begin with having them extracted to create room for the implant. If your jawbone is destroyed, the treatment plan will start with preparing the jaw for installation.
Your dentist will begin the main procedure once all the preparations and treatments have been done and are ready for installation. A dental implant is simply a small post installed into the bone socket, missing a tooth. Your dentist or oral surgeon will cut open your gum on the affected part to expose the jawbone. Then, they will drill holes into the jawbone where the metal post will be installed. The post will serve as the root of your dental replacements. It has to be installed into the jawbone.
The treatment will still leave a gap that the missing tooth left. Your dentist could place a temporary denture on that gap for appearance's sake and temporarily serve you until you are ready for a more permanent solution. You can remove the temporary denture while sleeping, eating, or cleaning your teeth.
After installing the implant, you will give your jaw time to heal. The jaw will grow around the implant as it heals, securing it in your jawbone. The healing process could last for between six and twelve weeks. After that, you will go back to your dentist.
When your dentist is sure that the implant is perfectly bonded to your jawbone, they will attach a small connecting post, called an abutment, to the implant. The abutment will securely hold an artificial tooth. Your dentist will then make a new artificial tooth to replace the missing natural tooth. They will make impressions of your natural teeth to create a model of your bite.
Impressions capture all your remaining teeth, showing your dental type and arrangement. Your new teeth must be designed to match your remaining natural teeth.
Once your new artificial tooth is ready, your dentist will attach it to the abutment. You can now enjoy your new permanent look and feel. It will be as if you never lost any teeth in the first place. Note that this procedure will not happen until your jawbone is completely healed and strong enough to support a new tooth.
You have two options to choose from for dental replacements after installing a dental implant.
Removable Artificial Teeth
They work the same way as removable dentures and could be complete or partial dentures. They come as artificial white teeth surrounded by pink plastic gum. The set is mounted on the metal frame attached to the abutment; it snaps securely into place. The removable artificial teeth are easy to remove when repairing or for daily cleaning.
Fixed Artificial Teeth
They are the complete opposite because they cannot be removed for whatever reason after the installation. You have to undergo another extensive and costly procedure to remove them if needed. A fixed artificial tooth is permanently cemented or screwed onto an abutment. You cannot remove it during sleep or for cleaning. If you have multiple missing teeth, a single tooth is fixed on its dental implant. Thus, you will require an implant installed for every missing tooth. But since implants are solid, several teeth can be bridged together to be supported by a single implant.
Care after Treatment
Installed dental implants do not require much after-care. You will care for them the same way you care for your natural teeth. That is brushing your teeth at least two times a day and flossing once a day. You can also rinse your mouth once daily with an antibacterial mouthwash. Additionally, regularly have your teeth checked by a dentist to ensure they are in perfect health.
Find a Dental Implants Specialist Near Me
If you have one or more missing teeth or some of your teeth are severely damaged, you could greatly benefit from dental implants. However, take time to understand what they are, the benefits, how the procedure is done, and what you will need to do after the installation to avoid experiencing additional dental issues. At The Whittier Dentist, we have the information you need to make an informed decision. Our professionally-trained cosmetic dentists will also take you through the process to restore your smile and confidence. Call us at 562-632-1223 for more information on dental implants in Whittier, CA, and let us examine your oral health for a more inclusive treatment plan.